Prov­i­dence stuns No. 3 Vil­lanova

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS -

PROV­I­DENCE, R.I. >> Prov­i­dence will need to play its best basketball of the sea­son down the stretch if its hopes to earn its fifth straight

NCAA Tour­na­ment bid.

The Fri­ars just took a big step to­ward that goal.

Ky­ron Cartwright scored 17 points and the Fri­ars with­stood sev­eral late surges to stun third-ranked Vil­lanova 76-71 on Wed­nes­day night.

Rod­ney Bul­lock and Al­pha Diallo each added 14 points for the Fri­ars (17-9,

8-5 Big East), who snapped a five-game los­ing streak to the Wild­cats.

It was Prov­i­dence’s first win over Vil­lanova since Jan. 24, 2016. With the vic­tory the Fri­ars greatly im­proved their at-large re­sume for the NCAA Tour­na­ment. They moved into a tie for third­place in the Big East with Creighton, which they split with this sea­son.

Com­ing off an 80-63 loss to DePaul, Diallo said this vic­tory gives the Fri­ars’ locker room a needed jolt.

“I think this was a big game for us con­fi­dence-wise,” he said. “It’s not ev­ery day you ba­si­cally have the No. 1 team com­ing into your build­ing.”

Mikal Bridges had 19 points for Vil­lanova, but fouled out with 1:12 to play in the game. Jalen Brun­son added 14 points.

Vil­lanova (23-3, 10-3) pulled within 59-54 on a pair of free throws by Omari Spell­man with 6:25 left. But the Fri­ars outscored the Wild­cats 8-4 over the next two min­utes to push the lead back to 67-58.

Collin Gille­spie gave the Wild­cats a chance af­ter his layup trimmed Prov­i­dence’s lead to 72-69 with 29 sec­onds left. Cartwright then con­nected on one of his two free throws on the other end.

Vil­lanova missed on its en­su­ing pos­ses­sion and was forced to foul with 20.6 left. Cartwright again hit one of two, and Eric Paschall made a layup on the other end to make it 74-71.

The Wild­cats fouled again with 12.8 left, but this time Diallo was able to con­vert on a pair of free throws.

“They just out­played us. We were ready to go. They were just bet­ter,” Vil­lanova coach Jay Wright said. “I thought we would have played a lit­tle bit bet­ter. We didn’t.”

Spell­man, who en­tered the night lead­ing the team in re­bound­ing, wore a pro­tec­tive mask af­ter suf­fer­ing a frac­ture to a small fa­cial bone dur­ing Satur­day’s win over But­ler.

He stayed ac­tive un­der­neath the bas­ket, scor­ing 11 points and grab­bing nine re­bounds. The ex­tra op­por­tu­ni­ties helped the Wild­cats outscore the Fri­ars 44-20 in the paint.

But Vil­lanova strug­gled from the out­side, miss­ing 17 of 20 3-point at­tempts. The Wild­cats also fin­ished with 19 turnovers.

“They were just re­ally phys­i­cal,” said Brun­son, who had seven of the turnovers. “We were giv­ing up the ball. You gotta be strong with the ball.”

Prov­i­dence has five games re­main­ing, in­clud­ing a trip to fourth-ranked Xavier.

Prov­i­dence coach Ed Coo­ley said he’s com­fort­able fly­ing un­der the radar for now.

“We don’t want to be talked about,” he said. “We’re the lit­tle red en­gine just try­ing to come up the street.”

Florida State 81,

No. 11 Clemson 79, OT

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE, FLA.>> Phil Cofer scored 17 points, Trent For­rest added 16 and the Semi­noles (18-8, 7-7 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) ral­lied from an 18-point deficit in the sec­ond half to beat the Tigers (20-5, 9-4).

The Semi­noles didn’t take their first lead un­til 1:05 re­main­ing in over­time when For­rest made a driv­ing layup to put them up 75-74. Af­ter Clemson was called for a five-sec­ond vi­o­la­tion on the in­bounds, For­rest came up big with an­other driv­ing layup to put FSU up by three.

Clemson scored four of the next six points to get within 79-78 but For­rest made both free throws with 5.3 sec­onds re­main­ing to ex­tend the mar­gin to three.

BIG WEST

UC River­side 69, CSU Northridge 62

NORTHRIDGE, CALIF. >> Dikymbe Martin scored 18 points, six of them in the fi­nal three min­utes, as the High­landers (7-18, 2-9) held off a late rally to beat the Mata­dors (6-20, 3-9).

UC River­side now has won two of its last three games af­ter snap­ping a 10game los­ing streak with its first Big West win at Hawaii. The High­landers dropped a 62-52 de­ci­sion at UC Irvine on Satur­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Prov­i­dence guard Ky­ron Cartwright cel­e­brated af­ter sink­ing a 3-pointer dur­ing the sec­ond half to in­crease his team’s lead over Vil­lanova on Wed­nes­day.

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